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 Post subject: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 11:09 am 
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Dr. Michael J. Gorman. is a professor of Sacred Scripture and Dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland — a United Methodist in a Catholic institution with strong ecumenical commitments. In his blog he has what I consider a tremendous post on Sunday preaching on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

http://www.michaeljgorman.net/2011/05/2 ... ggestions/

Gorman blog (with my emphasis added) wrote:
Memorial Day Preaching Suggestions
Friday, May 27th, 2011

This weekend, in the U.S., churches will be filled with civil religion as the civil part of the liturgical year (Memorial Day to Thanksgiving), as practiced here, kicks off.

Suggestions for what not to do this weekend if you are among those who will be preaching and choose to make some reference to the U.S. holiday/ holy-day:

1. Do not glorify war. Consider using a quote from a war-seasoned expert about war. Eisenhower, for instance, said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

2. Do not sacralize war. War is not a holy enterprise, a crusade led by God and God’s representatives on earth, but a human project caused by failures and full of evils, no matter what its rationale or outcome.

3. Do not make war salvific or Christian by misapplying Jesus’ statement in John 15:3 about his own loving death and about radical discipleship (”No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”) to war-deaths.

4. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking that any nation is the kingdom of God, or that any nation deserves the unqualified allegiance and praise due to God alone.

5. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking that there is anything more important than worshiping God and following Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.

6. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking, “Man, that was a great sermon about this great country and our great wars!”

And one thing to do:
Make sure everyone leaves the church knowing it is Easter season and Pentecost is around the corner! It is the season of life and peace and promise.





Edward Pothier


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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 11:41 am 
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Edward Pothier wrote:
Dr. Michael J. Gorman. is a professor of Sacred Scripture and Dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland — a United Methodist in a Catholic institution with strong ecumenical commitments. In his blog he has what I consider a tremendous post on Sunday preaching on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

http://www.michaeljgorman.net/2011/05/2 ... ggestions/

Gorman blog (with my emphasis added) wrote:
Memorial Day Preaching Suggestions
Friday, May 27th, 2011

This weekend, in the U.S., churches will be filled with civil religion as the civil part of the liturgical year (Memorial Day to Thanksgiving), as practiced here, kicks off.

Suggestions for what not to do this weekend if you are among those who will be preaching and choose to make some reference to the U.S. holiday/ holy-day:

1. Do not glorify war. Consider using a quote from a war-seasoned expert about war. Eisenhower, for instance, said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

It has been rightly said that no one hates war more than the soldiers who have to fight it.

2. Do not sacralize war. War is not a holy enterprise, a crusade led by God and God’s representatives on earth, but a human project caused by failures and full of evils, no matter what its rationale or outcome.

This is Fundamentalism 101. You wouldn't believe the number of sermons I heard which made war an equivalent of serving God because we were serving God's country.

3. Do not make war salvific or Christian by misapplying Jesus’ statement in John 15:3 about his own loving death and about radical discipleship (”No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”) to war-deaths.

Have heard this, too, in Fundamentalism. More than once.

4. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking that any nation is the kingdom of God, or that any nation deserves the unqualified allegiance and praise due to God alone.

This is without a doubt the worst of the allegiances of Fundamentalists and Conservatives. Unfortunately, many Catholics fall into this trap also, forgetting that the Kingdom of God, as represented by the Holy Father and Holy Mother Church, commands our first allegiance in all things.

5. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking that there is anything more important than worshiping God and following Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.

A reminder: Following God means "Blessed are the peacemakers. We have turned this upside down in this country. Blessed are the warmakers. Blessed are those who make war goodies. Blessed is spending an obscene amount on war while the poor suffer.

I am studying for my first set of classes for deacon formation, and one of the more interesting books I am reading is tracing Orthodox thought from the first century onward. I was reading this morning about something that had puzzled me for a while as a Protestant because I did not understand the division of thought and philosophy which separates Eastern from Western thinking. Christianity had a very pacifist flavor to it for three centuries. It wasn't until the Church in the West got going that the idea of a "just war" was floated around the 5th century. The East, on the other hand, maintained a great deal of that pacifist view.

It seems to me that if you are a real believer, pacifism is epistomologically correct. After all, what is there to fight about if you are going to die and inherit the Kingdom of God when you do? No wonder the Early Church had people literally longing for martyrdom! Perhaps our love of war comes from our lack of faith that there is an afterlife??


6. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking, “Man, that was a great sermon about this great country and our great wars!”

If you can stomach it (don't eat lunch first) go to a Fundamentalist service. You will get a bellyfull of such claptrap. Leaving a Fundamentalist Church, one would think that Jesus died for America as His Kingdom rather than for the eternal Kingdom which consists of all races, nations, and peoples.

And one thing to do:
Make sure everyone leaves the church knowing it is Easter season and Pentecost is around the corner! It is the season of life and peace and promise.





Edward Pothier


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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:08 pm 
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Pacifism, strictly speaking, is not an option to Christians, insofar as we are still to care for the common good of the earthly city. Never, of course, more than or even equal to the care we have for the heavenly city

As far as number 3 goes, that does not apply per se to war deaths qua war deaths, but it does apply in individual cases

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:09 pm 
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That said, I must also add that dying for the common good of one's coutry is something honorable. Patriotism is a virtue

But a natural, not a supernatural one. It shouldn't be part of the cult

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:13 pm 
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Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Pacifism, strictly speaking, is not an option to Christians, insofar as we are still to care for the common good of the earthly city. Never, of course, more than or even equal to the care we have for the heavenly city

As far as number 3 goes, that does not apply per se to war deaths qua war deaths, but it does apply in individual cases



PED, I always look forward to your commentary in threads. Your posts are well thought out, rational, and full of historical and eclessial information.

If this is true, then why did the Church for the first three centuries have so much of the pacifist nature about it? Was it that they were expecting the Kingdom at any time and therefore thought it not worth fighting temporal and earthly battles? Was it that they misunderstood our duties on earth? Or were they really following Christ's admontions for peace keeping and eventually in the West, a certain militaristic mindset prevailed over the Church?


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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 8:47 pm 
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Light of the East wrote:
Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Pacifism, strictly speaking, is not an option to Christians, insofar as we are still to care for the common good of the earthly city. Never, of course, more than or even equal to the care we have for the heavenly city

As far as number 3 goes, that does not apply per se to war deaths qua war deaths, but it does apply in individual cases



PED, I always look forward to your commentary in threads. Your posts are well thought out, rational, and full of historical and eclessial information.

If this is true, then why did the Church for the first three centuries have so much of the pacifist nature about it? Was it that they were expecting the Kingdom at any time and therefore thought it not worth fighting temporal and earthly battles? Was it that they misunderstood our duties on earth? Or were they really following Christ's admontions for peace keeping and eventually in the West, a certain militaristic mindset prevailed over the Church?

I have no idea what you mean by that last comment. Last I checked Byzantium had professional armies. In the West, during the same time, we have the Truce of God and the "Peace Militias"...and God knoweth that the first crusaders confused the Byzantines....

One really question for you, what do you mean by peace? I guarantee you that modern notions of peace and pacifism are anachronistic when talking about pre-moderns.

It is interesting to note what Christ said to the soldiers in Luke? He did not say, put down your sword. He said, be content with your pay.

Two quotes from Augustine are helpful

True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.

The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war


The interpretation of taking up a sword that the Fathers give the scripture, is to take it up on one's own volition, rather than to be commissioned with it by God, or by lawful authority (as St. Paul states, the prince has the sword from God) for the sake of justice, or as St. Paul says it against the wicked (lawful authority, against the wicked, right intention)

"But I say to you not to resist evil." Some, like the anabaptists, take this to mean a principle of non-resistance absolutely speaking. But in some sense, even they must break it if taken absolutely...shunning is casting the evil from them. What he have here is not a moral commandment, but an evangelical precept.

In natural law then, there is a moral use of resistance and self defense. Christ calls us to something greater. Honor is, among natural goods, the highest paid man. But we are called to sacrifice that for God, for the supreme good. Hence, St. Thomas remarks that it is against humility to be offended by personal affront. But still, we are called to love our neighbor, and hence it would be a sign of a cold heart not to be offended at the affront offered to the innocent. Again, why we are to love only God, the humanity of Christ and the BVM greater than ourselves, still in each order we love the common good greater than our personal good. Hence the father loves the good of his family over any personal and particular good proper to him. If a man is either to be killed or fight back, it is very laudable that he offer no resistance considered in itself. However, as we love our salvation before we love our neighbor, if this man were in mortal sin he would be obligated to defend himself. And as he loves his family more than his life, he is obligated to defend his family. In such cases killing the assailant is not unjust when necessary.

As much for the individual, even more for the state. The common good of the state is to be loved more than the particular good of its members within that same order (that is, while I should love my particular spiritual good above the common good of the state, the particular good I possess within the worldly political order is subordinate to the common good of that order, just as my own spiritual good is subordinated to the common Good of the spiritual order, God Himself). Hence, willingness, when necessary, to sacrifice oneself for that common good is praiseworthy and belongs to the virtue of patriotism. When it is necessary, for the sake of justice, that the state use coercive power then, because I am a member of the body-political it is right that I be willing to fight. Now of course many wars, almost certainly most, are unjust. And very few just ones involve no injustice. But that is another matter

To see that it is not, from the natural law, immoral one merely needs to consider the fact that God commanded wars in the past. The only question is whether He has forbidden them under the new law. I would say no, no more than He has abolished earthly punishments of injustice of which war, when just, is an example. However, we are called to a more merciful approach since the new law and hence what is, strictly speaking, permitted by the natural law is not necessarily what the Christian should follow.

Indeed, the example of meekness and mercy that Christ gives needs to bend justice back a bit. Hence those who ought to be conformed most to Christ, the clergy and religious, cannot morally fight in even the most just of wars. Until recently, though, one could not become a priest who had served in a war, or who had performed an execution, or even served on a jury that gave capital punishment. Or indeed shed human blood of any sort (there was a debate about whether surgeons could become priests!). On this level it takes the form of an evangelical counsel. Whereas the evangelical precept calls us to surrender our particular, natural goods, and therefore mitigates that right to self-defense, the evangelical counsel calls those in that state of life to an even more perfect and higher way. Still, those with care for the common good of a society must be enabled to do what is necessary for that common good, including infliction of just punishments and just war. But yes, there is that tension there between the meekness of Christ and such action.

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Last edited by Ιασων on Sat May 28, 2011 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 8:36 am 
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On Memorial Day, we usually go to a cemetery and attend at a Mass to pray for the dead.

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 9:12 am 
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Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Light of the East wrote:
Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Pacifism, strictly speaking, is not an option to Christians, insofar as we are still to care for the common good of the earthly city. Never, of course, more than or even equal to the care we have for the heavenly city

As far as number 3 goes, that does not apply per se to war deaths qua war deaths, but it does apply in individual cases



PED, I always look forward to your commentary in threads. Your posts are well thought out, rational, and full of historical and eclessial information.

If this is true, then why did the Church for the first three centuries have so much of the pacifist nature about it? Was it that they were expecting the Kingdom at any time and therefore thought it not worth fighting temporal and earthly battles? Was it that they misunderstood our duties on earth? Or were they really following Christ's admontions for peace keeping and eventually in the West, a certain militaristic mindset prevailed over the Church?



I have no idea what you mean by that last comment. Last I checked Byzantium had professional armies. In the West, during the same time, we have the Truce of God and the "Peace Militias"...and God knoweth that the first crusaders confused the Byzantines....

I think the writings of the Early Fathers show that militarism was no considered compatible with professing Christianity. Indeed, how many stories do we have of soldiers who, upon their conversion, renounced their military duty, often at the expense of martyrdom?

Another issue appears to be the lack of military conquest practiced by the East as opposed to the West. Again, I am just speculating here, but I fail to see the same militaristic spirit in countries of the East, such as Greece, as opposed to say, England, France, or Spain.

Were the professional armies of Byzantium for defense or conquest? I am not saying that there is anything wrong with legitimate defense of one's home and person. It again appeaers to me that the West has had a more conquest based idiom than the East.


One really question for you, what do you mean by peace? I guarantee you that modern notions of peace and pacifism are anachronistic when talking about pre-moderns.

Could you draw this out a little more please? I think you are saying something important here, but I am not "getting it".

It is interesting to note what Christ said to the soldiers in Luke? He did not say, put down your sword. He said, be content with your pay.

Two quotes from Augustine are helpful:

True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.

The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war

The interpretation of taking up a sword that the Fathers give the scripture, is to take it up on one's own volition, rather than to be commissioned with it by God, or by lawful authority (as St. Paul states, the prince has the sword from God) for the sake of justice, or as St. Paul says it against the wicked (lawful authority, against the wicked, right intention)

"But I say to you not to resist evil." Some, like the anabaptists, take this to mean a principle of non-resistance absolutely speaking. But in some sense, even they must break it if taken absolutely...shunning is casting the evil from them. What he have here is not a moral commandment, but an evangelical precept.

In natural law then, there is a moral use of resistance and self defense. Christ calls us to something greater. Honor is, among natural goods, the highest paid man. But we are called to sacrifice that for God, for the supreme good. Hence, St. Thomas remarks not it is against humility to be offended by personal affront. But still, we are called to love our neighbor, and hence it would be a sign of a cold hold not to be offended at the affront offered to the innocent. Again, why we are to love only God, the humanity of Christ and the BVM greater than ourselves, still in each order we love the common good greater than our personal good. Hence the father loves the good of his family over any personal and particular good proper to him. If a man is either to be killed or fight back, it is very laudable that he offer no resistance considered in itself. However, as we love our salvation before we love our neighbor, if this man were in mortal sin he would be obligated to defend himself. And as he loves his family more than his life, he is obligated to defend his family. In such cases killing the assailant is not unjust.

As much for the individual, even more for the state. The common good of the state is to be loved more than the particular good of its members within that same order (that is, while I should love my particular spiritual good above the common good of the state, the particular good I possess within the worldly political order is subordinate to the common good of that order, just as my own spiritual good is subordinated to the common Good of the spiritual order, God Himself). Hence, willingness, when necessary, to sacrifice oneself for that common good is praiseworthy and belongs to the virtue of patriotism. When it is necessary, for the sake of justice, that the state use coercive power then, because I am a member of the body-political it is right that I be willing to fight. Now of course many wars, almost certainly most, are unjust. And very few just ones involve no injustice. But that is another matter

To see that it is not, from the natural law, immoral one merely needs to consider the fact that God commanded wars in the past. The only question is whether He has forbidded them under the new law. I would say no, no more than He has abolished earthly punishments of injustice of which war, when just, is an example. However, we are called to a more merciful approach since the new law and hence what is, strictly speaking, permitted by the natural law is not necessarily what the Christian should follow.

Indeed, the example of meekness and mercy Christ that gives needs to bend justice back a bit. Hence those who ought to be conformed most to Christ, the clergy and religious, cannot morally fight in even the most just of wars. Until recently, though, one could not become a priest who had served in a war, or who had performed an execution, or even served on a jury that gave capital punishment. Or indeed shed human blood of any sort (there was a debate about whether surgeons could become priests!). On this level it takes the form of an evangelical counsel. Whereas the evangelical precept calls us to surrender our particular, natural goods, and therefore mitigates that right to self-defense, the evangelical counsel calls those in that state of life to an even more perfect and higher way. Still, those with care for the common good of a society must be enabled to do what is necessary for that common good, including infliction of just punishments and just war. But yes, there is that tension there between the meekness of Christ and such action.

You have not disappointed. This is an outstanding answer.

I am not trying to make a statement against all self-defense. My concern is more in the nature of how we as a people individually and also as a nation, approach war. My sense is that we are all too ready to go to war, and this is driven by politicians who manipulate things behind the scenes in order to create situations favorable to war. Ultimately, it is not the country or individuals who profit, but corporations, as outlined by General Smedley Butler in his book WAR IS A RACKET.

The problem for someone sincere in trying to understand these themes is the possiblity of leaning too far in one direction or the other. You have presented what I believe is a balanced view.





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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 11:20 am 
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I see what you mean by militarism. That is certainly true of the West in the modern era. But then again, Greece was subjugated to the Ottomans who indeed went on conquest. And Russia was very militaristic. I see that more as a symptom of the modern nation state than a difference versus East and West.

My point about Byzantium and the Crusaders is more complicated. Before the modern era war was view very differently. The 100 years war really marks a fundamental shift. But the original crusaders (emphasis on original) were not militaristic. They came from the peace militias and the truce of God movement. Knights would put down the sword, hence surrendering their militarism. Later, swearing over relics, they were commissioned with the sword to lead the peace militias and defend the innocent from bad knights. It was this group that first embarked on the crusades against the Moslems. Human spite would later affect the original goal of course, but when doesn't it.

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 5:02 am 
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I think Brother Ed is referring to the time before Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 10:35 am 
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Pepsuber wrote:
I think Brother Ed is referring to the time before Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

Then that makes even less sense with respect to the charge of militarism....was St. Irenaeus militant?

One thing we must remember is that the early Christians did not have everything worked out. It is a nice myth we like to believe that theology was perfect then and are job is recovery. St. Justin Martyr was an emanationist, for instance. Something in later centuries might get you labelled not only heretical, but not a Christian. That there is a tension between rendering unto Caesar and the meekness of Christ likely means that it wasn't all worked out. Certainly the early Christians too far more stock in the meekness...but then again, many soldiers were Christian and remained soldiers (indeed among the general population Christianity was very small...perhaps 1-2% of the population of Italy, and even last from where Constantine came from, in the early 4th century). Greece was maybe 20%, Egypt 10%. Only Armenia and some towns in Thessalonia had a majority.

The military had a higher proportion of Christians....

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 Post subject: Re: Memorial Day Preacing Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 12:57 pm 
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The Memorial Day was originally called the Decoration Day and was first observed on May 30, 1868 when graves for soldiers in Civil War were decorated.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

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